Rookie Scouting Portfolio writers Mark Schofield and Matt Waldman deliver an hour of film analysis based on four games from Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’ 2019 season, and they agree that the talented Fields is on track to develop into a top NFL prospect, but he needs another year or two on Saturdays to make it so
One of my favorite things about doing RSP Film Rooms with Mark Schofield is when we discover on-air what the other thinks of the player that we’ve been studying separately. About two-thirds of the way through the show, Mark shares that he appreciates the skills and the likely development trajectory that Fields’ game will take but he wasn’t bowled over with Fields based on his first run through the quarterback’s tape, which included matchups with Wisconsin and Northwestern.
I felt the same way after watching him against Clemson, Indiana, and the same Wisconsin matchup as Mark. Of the three quarterbacks that many believe are part of the top tier of passers for the 2021 NFL Draft (or beyond), Fields has the slickest package of physical skills as a passer and runner.
He also has a promising conceptual grasp of quarterbacking. Although he may arrive at the right answer to a variety of problems that defenses pose—even some of the more difficult wrinkles Brent Venables threw at Fields in the Clemson game—the processing of these answers is a beat or two late against elite college talent that will feed future starters into the NFL.
This is by no means a bad thing for Fields’ prospects. He’s where he’s supposed to be after one year as a starter. Where this could become problematic is if Fields loses patience with college football and the pandemic and opts to go pro a year or two earlier than he might have otherwise.
If this happens, Fields’ development curve could be too steep for most players of his talent to traverse successful and become an NFL franchise starter. It wouldn’t be impossible, but the risk factor that would come without the playing time to sharpen his mental processing of the problems that he hasn’t yet mastered at Ohio State (and should within the next 12-24 months of college starts) could present a larger hurdle if he lacks that baseline mastery when he goes pro.
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